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St. Augustine Parish - Depew, NY

A parish history from the 1959 Golden Jubilee Book

After long and urgent pleas from the Polish people of Depew, the late Most Rev. Bishop Charles Colton of Buffalo, N. Y. agreed to establish a new parish on the south side of Depew. This was on May 26th in the year 1909. The original boundaries were east and south of the Lackawanna Railroad tracks.

Rev. Anthony Majewski was appointed first pastor of the new church on June 9th of the same year.

The first divine service was held in the hall belonging to Mr. Matthew Dworzanowski at Penora and James St., and the first Mass was celebrated by Rev. Anthony Majewski, the new Pastor.

At this time, Father Majewski nominated a committee to take the first steps toward building a church. The following formed the committee: Michael Potoczak, Matthew Dworzanowski, Frank Zgoda, Adam Bartoszek and Hipolit Hejza. Father Majewski and the new committee decided to buy a 15 lot area at Penora and Gould Ave. for the sum of $4,428. Bishop K. Colton approved the decision sending a check for the payment in full.

The energetic pastor and committee immediately began plans for a church and school. At the cost of $20,421, a brick building was erected. This was a combination church on the first floor and school on the second floor.

At the same time a new bui1ding, for the sisters, was erected at the cost of $8,585. Plans for the building were prepared by architect Carl Zawadzki and the general contractor was Mr. M. A. Cwiklinski. As yet, there was no home for the Pastor.

For this purpose the committee bought a house located near the church for the sum of $4,300.

By this time all the assets of the new Parish rose to $50,000. The Pastor and parishioners worked very hard to meet the demands of a fast growing parish.

After considerable difficulty, Father Majewski secured four Felician Sisters as teachers for the school. One hundred and fifty pupils enrolled in the new Parish School and on June 19, 1910 there was an impressive ceremony. The occasion was the consecration of the new Church School and Convent by the Most Rev. Bishop Colton. Many priests assisted him The first steps toward the building up of the new parish were completed, but much was yet to be done.

After serving six years as Pastor of St. Augustine Church, Father Majewski was transferred to St. Cazimer's Parish in Buffalo, and Father Matthew Tymek was appointed the new Pastor.

At this time over 300 families belonged to St. Augustine Church and it was growing steadily. The combination Church and School building was too small so the new pastor decided to build a new separate church. Times were good and jobs were plentiful. As a result, in 1917, Father Tymek started to build the new church with an estimated cost of over $40,000. It was a stone basement used temporarily as a church. Above this basement a future church could be built. This basement church had a seating capacity of 1,200 and was quite comfortable for a new Parish. However, before this new church was finished, times suddenly changed. The economic depression struck hard and unemployment was rampant. Plans to build a church above the basement were temporarily postponed.

During this time many Parish Societies were organized to promote Church activities and to help the Parish pay it's debts. Many of these societies worked very hard to help out. Nearly every parishioner belonged to some kind of Church Society.

In the year 1919, Father Tymek helped purchase the new Parish Cemetery in Lancaster, N. Y. The land consists of 38 acres costing $6,000. Improvements, such as roads, fence, etc., cost an additional $1,500. As a result, today, St. Augustine Church has it's own nice, neat, cemetery; another addition to the Parish's growth.

The Blessing of the Cemetery was performed by Rev. A. Garstka of Buffalo. Managers of the Cemetery were Rev. Tymek, Mr. Sebastian Hawro, and Joseph Mialkowski.

The house where the Pastor resided was 'Old and inconvenient. In the year 1921, Father Tymek proceeded to build a new parsonage, a brick building costing over $35,000.

All these buildings (church, school, Sister's home) occupied all the Parish grounds. This resulted in the gradual elimination of playground space for children. To remedy this situation Father Tymek, with the help of Mr. Hawro, purchased 23 lots near the church for the sum of $875. This spot is known today as "St. Augustine Grounds", and has been a substantial increase to the financial value of the Parish. It could be used to build a new, larger, more modern, school if necessary.

Rev. Tymek was Pastor of St. Augustine Church for over fourteen years. His administration is remembered as one of the very successful. He died on February 8, 1929. His impressive funeral was attended by the Most Rev. Bishop W. Turner, Msgr. Alexander Pitas, Msgr. Francis Kasprzak, over 120 priests, many Sisters, parishioners and friends. The body of Father Tymek was sent to the place of his birth, Berea, Ohio.

After the death of Father Tymek, Rev. John Glazik of Buffalo was administrator of the Parish fer a short time

On Feb. 28, 1929, Rev. Stanley Ogrodowicz was appointed the new Pastor. This started a new era for the Parish.

Near the church a beautiful grotto was built from stones gathered by women, children and volunteer workers. This grotto, in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes, was dedicated on August 15, 1937 by Msgr. Francis Kasprzak and this special occasion speech was made by Rev. Maxmillian Bogacki. The grotto was built by Mr. John Stepien, one of the parishioners, without any formal plans, and only his imagination as a guide. It is really a fine work of art.

In June of the year 1938, Bishop J. Duffy gave the parish $700, from the collection for poor parishes, and all the buildings were renovated and repainted inside and out. A new asphalt tile floor was also laid costing $600. Times were very hard.

On June 9, 1940, the Church Societies held a banquet for Mr. Anthony Mackiewicz, on the occasion of his 25th year as organist. During this year many statues were donated by the parishioners for the decoration of the church.

Sunday, May 4, 1941 beheld the ceremony of the blessing of the Chapel of Polish Saints and the picture of Our Blessed Mother of Czestochowa. This was performed by Msgr. Alexander Pitas, Ph. D.D., with many priests assisting.

On October 12, 1941 Dom Polski (Polish Home) officially came under the control of the Societies in the St. Augustine Parish.

On December 7, 1941, Father Ogrodowicz celebrated the Silver Jubilee of his priesthood. High Mass was attended by many visiting clergy, among whom were: Rev. S. Kucharski, Rev. Cazimer Zak, Msgr. Peter Adamski, Rev. B. Kowalski, Rev. B. Majerowski, Rev. S. Wysoczynski, Rev. A. Fronekiewicz and Rev. S. Kulpinski. At the program, arranged by the Felician Sisters in Dom Polski, the parishioners and evening school children gave the Pastor many presents including $800 in cash. There was no banquet at this time as this was a day of sadness, the very day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

The blessing of the "Cemetery Group", the large Cross Altar, and Statues which cost over $1,300 took place on June 9, 1946. The money for this was donated by societies belonging to St. Augustine Church. Msgr. Peter Adamski performed the blessing with the assistance of many priests including Rev. F. Lubacz, Rev. Thomas Gwozdz, Rev. M. Bogacki, Rev. J. Rojek, Rev. Stephan Kucharski, Rev. Ignace Wojciechowski and Rev. W. Waligora. This same day Mass was celebrated by Father Ogrodowicz for the intention of veterans who returned from the war. An evening banquet was held at Dam Polski with over 600 participating. Veterans were given presents.

Thursday, June 3, 1948, tragedy struck the parish. Rev. S. Ogrodowicz died suddenly. His greatest dream 'Of building a new church was not fulfilled. The Parish lost not only a Pastor, but a good friend and a very hard worker for the church. Funeral for Rev. Ogrodowicz was held Monday at 10 o'clock with a High Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Joseph Burke, assisted by Rev. M. Walek, Rev. Majerowski, Rev. John Paul, Rev. Joseph Rojek, Rev. Frank Hejza, Rev. Stephan Kucharski. The family of Rev. Ogrodowicz are among the oldest residents in Depew.

On August 5, 1948 Bishop O'Hara appointed Rev. Vincent Dudek as the new Pastor of St. Augustine Church.

In the year 1951 tragedy again struck our parish. February 18, about 10 p. m. fire broke out in this basement church causing much damage. Before the fire Rev. Dudek made many new improvements in the church with the expenditure of over $14,000. The Insurance Co. paid only $40,000 for the damages. Parishioners were left without a church. Temporary church services were held in Dam Polski. On May 18, 1952, Rev. Dudek was transferred to a church in North Tonawanda. The Bishop appointed Rev. Waligora as temporary administrator of St. Augustine Church

. On June 8, 1952 His Excellency Bishop Burke appointed Rev. Ignacy Wojciechowski as the new Pastor of St. Augustine Church. A week before this appointment, fire again broke out in the ruins and the Insurance Co. paid an additional $150 for this damage.

Installation of the new Pastor, Rev. Wojciechowski, took place on Sunday, June 8, with many priests participating. The installation was held by Msgr. Piotr Adamski, Pastor of the oldest Polish Church in Buffalo, St. Stanislaus. With the new Pastor, Rev. Wojciechowski, a new era of success started at our Parish. After a few months Rev. Wojciechowski appointed a special committee to build a new church. This energetic committee started work immediately. Donations for a new church poured in from all sources in larger sums. By the end of September 1952, the building of a new church was begun. Sunday, July 26, 1953 the corner stone was laid with an impressive ceremony officiated by His Excellency Bishop Leo Smith. The occasional sermon was given by Msgr. Peter Adamski, Pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo. At this time 650 families belonged to St. Augustine Parish and there were 300 children enrolled in the Parochial School. Seven Felician Sisters were teachers in our school at this time. All the Church possessions were worth over one million dollars and the Parish indebtedness was only $150,000. Finally, after one a half years the new church was finished. Sunday, December 20, 1953, a big celebration was held in Depew-the Blessing of the new St. Augustine Church by His Excellency Bishop Joseph Burke with many participating priests and church dignitaries present. The occasion sermon was given by the Rev. Infulat Joseph Glapinski in which he gave due credit to Pastor Rev. Wojciechowski, his assistant Rev. Stachewicz, Church Building Committee, Sisters, and parishioners.

The harmonious interior of the new St. Augustine Church is most appealing and creates an atmosphere of Holiness. There is a seating capacity of 650. The Parishioners are really proud of their new church. It cost over $400,000. The most joyful moment for the parishioners came this year when Rev. Wojciechowski announced that all parish debts are paid and the Parish had over $10,000 in cash.

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Last Updated on January 5, 2012